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News

Welcome to the NatSci news page! Check back often to learn about the latest innovations, discoveries and accomplishments of our faculty, staff, students and alumni.

Experts and a unique research site at MSU are showing how the history of land being restored shapes the future and success of conservation efforts.
November 14, 2022
There's a popular saying that people who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. It turns out that there's another reason not to ignore history according to new research from Michigan State University published in the journal Ecology. Experts and a unique research site at MSU are showing how the history of land being restored shapes the future and success of conservation efforts. With support from the National Science Foundation, this new study focuses on one of those factors — when a plot is restored — through the lens of biodiversity.
cow eating in the woods
August 25, 2022
MSU ecologists in Elise Zipkin's Qualitative Ecology lab in the College of Natural Science have developed a mathematical framework that could help monitor and preserve biodiversity without breaking the bank. This framework or model takes low-cost data about relatively abundant species in a community and uses it to generate valuable insights on their harder-to-find neighbors. The journal Conservation Biology published the research as an Early View article on Aug. 25
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July 28, 2022
New research from Michigan State University is showing that bringing a little prairie back to farms in Michigan and other parts of the Midwest could help preserve both biodiversity and crop yields. When combined with the right field management practices, the array of benefits gained by adding a prairie strip essentially offset the loss of cropland. That is, prairie strips could be implemented without compromising crop yield. The findings were recently published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution.
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July 12, 2022
While studying for his Ph.D. at Michigan State University and working in Elise Zipkin’s Quantitative Ecology Lab, Alex Wright and his Ph.D. advisors set out to determine the best way to monitor wildlife to understand how biodiversity changes through time and space. A paper with their findings was recently published in Ecological Applications. The results will help conservationists optimize data collection to answer complex biodiversity questions at large scales.
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May 17, 2022
Popular conservation campaigns featuring mammals with big eyes and fuzzy features implies that to be saved, an animal best be cute. Yet species less well known and not as visually pleasing have essential roles within our ecosystems and are sometimes left out of critical assessments of our world’s biodiversity. Several faculty members in MSU's Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior program, including integrative biologist Phoebe Zarnetske, indicate that a focus on species providing ecosystem services may be the way forward to increase inclusivity for these important and lesser-known creatures.
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August 16, 2021
Missing metadata — data that provides information about other data — might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a costly problem that’s hindering humanity’s plans to protect the planet’s biodiversity. A Spartan-led research team reveals surprising gaps in ecological genetic data that could otherwise help global conservation efforts. MSU's Rachel Toczydlowski is the lead author of a new study  in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which features researchers from 14 institutions in three countries.The team audited the largest global repository for storing genetic sequence data to see if the entries included basic metadata needed to make them useful for monitoring genetic diversity.
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July 19, 2021
MSU ecologists led an international research partnership of professional and volunteer scientists to reveal new insights into what’s driving the already-dwindling population of eastern monarch butterflies even lower. Between 2004 and 2018, changing climate at the monarch’s spring and summer breeding grounds has had the most significant impact on this declining population. In fact, the effects of climate change have been nearly seven times more significant than other contributors, such as habitat loss. The team published its report July 19 in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.
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June 16, 2021
The original Star Trek television series took place in a future when space is the final frontier, but humanity hasn’t reached that point quite yet. As researchers like MSU entomologists Sarah Smith and Anthony Cognato are reminding us, there’s still plenty to discover right here on Earth. Working in Central and South America, the duo discovered more than three dozen species of ambrosia beetles — beetles that eat ambrosia fungus — previously unknown to science. Smith and Cognato described these new species on June 16  in the journal ZooKeys and named some after iconic sci-fi heroines.

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